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Slovenian parliament passes partnership law

Slovenia's National Assembly approved a same-sex partnership bill June 22 by a vote of 44 to 3. Forty-three other deputies were missing for the vote.

Gay-rights groups denounced the bill, saying they were shut out of the process and that it doesn't go nearly far enough.

The measure grants registered couples spousal rights in the areas of property, support, hospital visitation and, partially, inheritance.

'The new bill, which is bringing only partial rights, is discriminatory, treating LGBT citizens as second-class citizens,' said Tatjana Greif of SKUC-LL, the Lesbian Section of the Students' Cultural Center.

'We do not want to participate in the process of 'virtual-democracy,'' she said. 'However, we see the new law as the first and fundamental step towards introducing more equal legislation for sexual minorities in Slovenia. Our mission and our goal for the future is to take all the necessary steps to improve the existing law.'

Huge march against gay marriage in Madrid

Somewhere between 166,000 and 1.5 million people marched against same-sex marriage in Madrid, Spain, June 18—depending on whose numbers are accurate.

The National Police said 166,000; the largest newspaper said 180,000; the city said 200,000; the regional government said 700,000 and organizers said 1.5 million.

A bill legalizing full marriage for same-sex couples, as well as gay adoption, faces one more perfunctory vote in Congress before becoming law by early July.

The march, organized by the Spanish Forum for the Family, was led by 20 Roman Catholic bishops. Officials of the ruling Socialist government responded by defending the bill and accusing the protesters of bigotry.

Polling suggests between 55 percent and 65 percent of Spaniards support letting same-sex couples marry.

In Mexico City, several dozen people joined in by protesting outside the Spanish Embassy. In Barcelona, 3,000 people marched in favor of same-sex marriage. The demonstration was organized at the last minute by two lesbians sending cell-phone text messages.

On June 22, the marriage bill was rejected by the Spanish Senate, in a 131-119 vote. But it doesn't matter. The Congress can—and will—pass the bill into law without the Senate's consent, Spanish media said.

Argentine actor

denied U.S. visa

Prominent Argentine actor and comedian Fernando Peña was denied his visa renewal by the U.S. Consulate in Buenos Aires because he is HIV-positive, Immigration Equality reported June 22.

Peña had had a U.S. travel visa most of his life, using it to visit relatives and to perform at events such as the Latin American MTV Video Music Awards.

The U.S. bans nearly all openly HIV-positive visitors because immigration law classifies HIV as a 'communicable disease of public health significance.' In certain instances, brief waivers of the ban are granted.

'The United States should be the world leader in fighting the HIV epidemic; instead we continue to perpetuate stigma and misinformation about how HIV is transmitted,' said Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality's legal director. 'Not only are the laws discriminatory, they are also ineffective in terms of prevention.'

Anglicans give Americans, Canadians the boot

The Anglican Consultative Council on June 21 told the U.S. Episcopal Church and the Anglican Church of Canada to leave the council because they're too gay-friendly. The vote was 30-28.

The U.S. church installed an openly gay bishop—Gene Robinson in New Hampshire—and the Canadian church has allowed blessings of same-sex unions, in British Columbia.

The Consultative Council is the worldwide Anglican Communion's central administrative body. The punishment will remain in effect until 2008.

The issue of the acceptability of gay sex eventually may lead to a full-blown Anglican schism, some observers believe.

Lesbians flock to British town

The rural British town of Hebden Bridge, located less than an hour from Manchester in the valleys of the Yorkshire Dales, has become a lesbian haven, Reuters reports.

The 5,000-population village has a gay bar, and some Web sites have reported that lesbians outnumber straight women six to one.

'We go to this pub regularly and you couldn't move for lesbians,' straight resident Judith Inman, 52, told Reuters. 'It makes me feel awful, really uncomfortable.'

Hebden Bridge has been a hippie hangout since the 1960s

Costa Rican cops face punishment for attack on gays

Two agents from Costa Rica's Department of Criminal Investigations may be suspended or fired after San José police arrested them for shouting insults at men leaving a gay bar and for firing their pistols and attacking a taxi driver at the scene, reported June 22.

The department's internal affairs unit is investigating the incident. The agents were turned over to the Public Ministry, which will process their cases through the judicial system.

New Brunswick legalizes gay marriage

Nine down, four to go. New Brunswick became the ninth of Canada's 13 provinces and territories to legalize same-sex marriage June 23.

As elsewhere, a judge declared the heterosexual definition of marriage to be a violation of Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Judy Clendenning gave the province 10 days to implement her new definition of marriage as a lawful union 'between two persons.'

The only places in Canada where same-sex couples now cannot marry are Alberta, the Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Prince Edward Island. A lawsuit on the matter already is under way in the Northwest Territories.

British Columbia sees first gay divorce

British Columbia saw its first gay divorce June 15.

It is one of eight Canadian provinces and territories where courts have legalized same-sex marriage.

In granting the divorce, B.C. Supreme Court Justice Laura Gerow declared the Divorce Act's heterosexual definition of marriage unconstitutional. Only the Marriage Act had been reworded earlier.

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